Known as “Glory’s Last Shot”, three days from now the PGA Championship will kickoff at Baltusrol Golf Club in New Jersey. This will present the final chance for players to join Danny Willett, Dustin Johnson and Henrik Stenson as this year’s major winners.
Before we get there, here are 10 interesting facts and figures you should know about the PGA Championship.
1. The Wanamaker Trophy
The winner of the PGA Championship today receives a replica of the Wanamaker Trophy. The trophy is named in the honor of Rodman Wanamaker, who is credited with revolutionizing the department store concept in America. A golf enthusiast, Wanamaker was a driving force behind the creation of the PGA of America and had put up the money to hold the first PGA Championship. The massive trophy weighs an incredible 27 pounds.
2. The Format
The first PGA Championship was played in 1916 and was was a Match Play format. This lasted up until 1957, where after the PGA of America decided to alter the format to Stroke Play as they had lost money and were also being pressured by the TV broadcasters to alter the format so that the big names would contend on Sunday rather than just two players fighting it out in the final.
3. When the Trophy Was Lost
The winner of the Wanamaker Trophy keeps the trophy for a year before returning it the next year, to be presented to the winner. Walter Hagen won four back-to-back PGA Championship from 1924-27. In 1926, on being asked why he didn’t bring the trophy to the awards presentation, he replied that he had no intention of losing it to anyone.
But in 1928, Leo Diegel beat Hagen in the quarter finals before going on to win the finals. When asked for the trophy, Hagen finally owned up that he’d lost it. Apparently, the previous year in Dallas, Hagen had handed over $5 and the trophy to a cab driver and asked for it be delivered to his hotel. The trophy never arrived.
In 1930, the trophy was finally found in Detroit, in the basement of L.A. young & Company, the firm that manufactured the Walter Hagen line of clubs. Meanwhile, the PGA of America had a replica built which is what is presented today. The original trophy, the one Hagen lost, now resides in the PGA Historical Center in Port St. Lucie, Fla.
4. Champions Dinner
Over the years, the Champions Dinner at The Masters has been well covered by the media. Most people don’t even know that there is a similar tradition at the PGA Championship. Not too sure what Jason Day is going to serve this year, but selecting the menu is not everything he has to do. The defending Champion is also responsible for passing out gifts to all former champions in attendance.
5. Championship Courses
The PGA Championship has been played all over the country, but is primarily played in the Eastern United States with the state of New York having hosted the most championships. Southern Hills Country Club in Tulsa, Oklahoma, has held the PGA Championships four times, the most of any of the courses. The 100th PGA Championship will be held in 2018 at the Bellerive Country Club outside of St. Louis, Missouri.
6. Sole Asian Winner
Y.E Yang won the 2009 PGA Championship at the Hazeltine National Golf Club in dramatic fashion, edging past Tiger Woods in the final round. Starting the day two-strokes behind Woods, the South Korean Yang shot a 2-under, 70, to win by three strokes. He became the first Asian-born player to win a men’s major championship and still remains so.
7. Nicklaus’ Love For the PGA Championship
Not only has Jack Nicklaus won the PGA Championship five times, he has many other records at the championship.
Most 2nd place finishes – 4
Most Top 3 finishes – 12
Most Top 5 finishes – 14
Most Top 10 finishes – 15
Most Top 25 finishes – 23
Most Cuts made – 27 (Stroke Play only)
8. Key Statistic Entering This Week
11 of the previous 12 winners of the PGA Championship had already won a tournament earlier in the year.
9. The 3 Best Players Never to Win the PGA Championship
The list of winners of this major is quite extensive. But there are three golfers who stand out as never having won the PGA Championship. Both Arnold Palmer and Tom Watson are missing wins at the PGA Championship which stopped them from completing a career Grand Slam.
Palmer has 62 wins in his career but the PGA Championship is not one of them. Palmer finished second three times, in ’64, ’68 and ’70.
Winner of 39 titles in his career, Watson is another great who never won the PGA Championship. Watson lost in the Playoff in 1978, and finished in the Top-10, nine other times.
With 91 professional wins, Seve is often regarded as the greatest Continental European golfer of all time. He never got to win the US Open or the PGA Championship. His best finish at this championship came in 1984 when he finished in the fifth position.
10. Long Drive Competition
The PGA Championship Long Drive Competition was first held in 1952 at the Big Spring Country Club in Louisville. It was discontinued from 1965-73 before returning in 1974. It was again discontinued in 1984 and was revived two years ago at Valhalla where Louis Oosthuzien won with a drive measuring 340 yards. Last year at Whistling Straits, Anirban Lahiri was the victor with a drive of 327 yards.
This year the competition will be held on Tuesday, at the first hole. The top three finishers each receive a money clip inspired by the one Jack Nicklaus received in the first of his two consecutive PGA Championship Driving Contest titles in 1963. A cumulative amount of $50,000 is also donated on the winners’ behalf to a charity of their choice.